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How to Perform Salah

Note 1: Sisters must read our 'Differences between men's and women's Salah', article to make adjustments in their Salah as there is some differences in Salah between Men and Women.

Note 2: When you are asked to 'Say' or 'Recite' or 'Read' in the directions. The sound must not be loud and at the same time not totally silent. It should be loud enough just for your ears to hear it and not so loud that a person next to you would be able to hear your recitation clearly. If a person next to you could hear only a mimic from you, that's fine. If you are surrounded by noise such as a fan's noise and you are not able to understand your recitation, it is okay. In an utmost quite room you should be able to understand your recitation. In any case must say it loud enough as mentioned above.

How do we perform Salah (prayer):

When beginning the Salah, men raise both hands. Tips of thumbs touch earlobes. Palms must be turned towards the Qibla. Saying of Allahu Akbar (Takbir) begin as hands leave ears and finished as they are folded under the navel.

NOTE: Women raise their both hands as high as their shoulders and say the Takbir at the beginning. Then they place their hands on their chest.

There are seven conditions for a Salah to be corrected.
  • Niyyat (intention)
  • Tahrima (To say Allah Akbar)
  • Qiyam (Standing)
  • Qiraat (Recitation of Quran)
  • Ruku (To bow)
  • Sajda (Prostration)
  • Qa'da-i- Akhira (Last sitting)
Niyyat (intention) is made while saying the Takbir at the beginning. It is permissible to make Niyyat before then.
  • To make Niyyat for Salah is initially the intention for the prayer you are about to begin, this does not have to be repeated upon the tongue, but to do so is recommended as it strengthens the intention. The intentions should include the time, to face the Qibla, to wish to follow the Imam (when performing Salah in the congregational prayers. The intention for example, "I pray two Rakat (or as many required for that time) Fard (if its Fard or say Sunnat if its Sunnat or say Wajib if its Wajib or Say Nafl if its Nafl) for Allah Ta’ala Face towards Ka’ba".
  • only having knowledge of Salah is not enough, as this is not Niyyat.
  • The Niyyat made after the Takbir of beginning is not correct and that Salah is not acceptable.
  • When making Niyyat for prayers that are Fard or Wajib, it is necessary to know which Fard or Wajib they are. For example, it is necessary to know the name of the Fard and to say for instance, "To perform today's early afternoon prayer (Zuhr)," or, the time of the prayer. "When performing the Salah of Eid or Witr, it is necessary to think of its being Wajib and its name.
  • It is good but not necessary to make Niyyat for the number of Rakats (Units of prayer).
  • When performing a Sunnah prayer the Niyyat "To perform Salah will suffice."
  • When beginning to worship, saying orally only is not called Niyyat. Worships done without Niyyat are not acceptable in accordance to all of four Madhhabs (Hanfi, Shaafi, Maliki and Hambli). Thus Niyyat is done by heart.
TAHRIMA means to say Allah Akbar when beginning Salah, and this is Fardh. No other word to replace it is acceptable. If the takbir is said too long, like AAllah (with AA instead of one A) in the beginning or Akbaar (with aa instead of one a) at the end, Salah will not be accepted. If 'Takbir' is said before the Imam, the Salah will be acceptable as it should be said after the saying of the Imam.

QIYAM means to stand.
  • When standing, the two feet must be four finger's width apart from each other.
  • In Fardhs, Wajibs and in the sunnat of Fajr Salah Qiyam is Fardh. It means a person who is healthy but performs the above mentioned Salah while sitting, is not acceptable, He must perform all of the mentioned Salahs with Qiyam for his Salah to be accepted.
  • He who is too ill to stand may perform Salah sitting, and if too ill to sit he may lye down on his back and performs it with his head (by moving, nodding his head, etc,). A pillow must be put under his head so that his face will be towards the Qibla instead of towards the sky. He bends his knees, so that he will not stretch his legs towards the Qibla.
  • As Qira’ah (recitation of the Qur’an is necessary in prayer), it is Wajib to say the Surah-tul-Faatiha at these parts of prayers and to also recite another Surah or three Ayah (verses) at every rakah of Sunnah and of the Witr prayers and the first two rak'ahs of the Fardh prayers.
  • In the Fardh prayers, It is Wajib to say the Faatiha and the other Surah at the two first rak’ahs. Additionally, it is Wajib to say Faatiha before the Surah. Furthermore, it is Wajib to say the Faatiha once at every rakah. If one of these five Wajibs is forgotten, it is necessary to make Sajda-e-shaw.
  • At the third and the fourth rak’ahs of the Fardh prayers, it is Sunnah for the Imam as well as for a person who performs Salah individually to say the Faatiha. [Ibni Abidin Shami, p 343].
  • A settled (resident) person who prays behind a travelling Imam will stand up when the Imam makes the salaam after the second rakah, and performs two more rak’ahs, but he does not make the Qira’ah. That is to say, he does not say the Faatiha or recites another Surah. He does not say any prayer as if he were praying behind the Imam.
  • In every prayer except that of Friday and the Eid prayers, it is Sunnah for the Imam to recite a Surah after the Faatiha in the first rakah which is longer than the one to be recited in the second rakah.
  • It is makruh to say a Surah in the second rakah which is three ayahs longer than the Surah said in the first rakah. It is always Wajib to read the Qur’anic Surahs or ayahs in order.
  • A person who is too ill to stand, or feels dizzy or have headache or toothache or pain at some other part of his body or can not control wind-breaking or bleeding when he stands may perform Salah sitting.
QIRAT: Means to recite from the Holy Qur’an. Reading gently means to read only as loud as him/herself can hear.(I) The recitation is called Jahri (aloud), that is, loud if its heard by people who stand of each side of the reader. (ii) It is Fardh to say at least three ayahs (verses) of the Qur’an while in Qiyam (standing) at every rakah and it must be in the order as they are written in the Qur’an. For example one cannot recite Surah Naas in first rakah and Surah Ikhlas in second.

RUKU: After the Surah you go into the bowing position while saying the Takbir. (I) In the rukuh men open their fingers and put them on their knees. They keep their back and head levelled, the arms and legs must be straight and then you should say, "Subhana Rabbiyel Azeem" at least thrice. (ii) If the Imam raises his head before you have read it thrice, then you must leave your recitation and follow the Imam. In the rukuh women do not open their fingers; they do not keep their head and back level, nor their arms and legs straight but rather cum close to their thighs keeping as much close to the body as possible..

It is Sunnah, for the Imam as well as a person who is praying alone, to say 'Sami' Allahu liman hamidah' while standing up from the rukuh. The Jama'at (congregation) does not say it. Right after saying it (if praying alone) or upon hearing the Imam recite it (if with Jama'at), one must say: 'Rab'bana lakal hamd', and stand upright. Then while saying the Takbir (Allahu Akbar) start to kneel down for the Sajdah (prostration). First place the right knee and then the left knee, followed by the right and then left hand on the floor. Finally, the nose and the forehead bones are placed put on ground.

SAJDAH (prostration)
  • In the Sajdah, fingers must be closed (no gap in between fingers), pointing towards the Qibla in line with the ears, and the head must be between hands. It is Fardh to put the forehead on something clean, such a clean stone, clean ground, clean wood or clean cloth and it is Wajib to put the nose down too. It is not permissible to put only the nose on the ground without a good excuse. It is makruh to put only the forehead on the ground. The nose should be pressured enough so that the bone of nose feels the ground, its very important to keep in account when praying on a soft carpet.
  • In the Sajdah position, you should recite, 'Subhana Rabbiyal A'la' at least thrice.
  • It is Fardh to put two feet or at least one finger of any foot on the ground. If both the feet are not placed on ground, the Salah will be annulled and not be accepted.
  • It is Sunnah to bend the toes and turn them towards the Qibla. (v) Men must keep their arms and thighs away from their abdomen.
  • The Sajdah must be done on the ground on condition that you will press on them until you feel their hardness, that is until your forehead cannot move downward any more. Same applies for the nose. Special precaution is required on this issue when praying on a carpet.
  • It is written in 'Halabi': "When going into Sajdah it is Makruh-e-Tehrimi to pull up the skirts of your loose long robe or your trousers, and it is Makruh-e-Tehrimi to fold them before beginning Salah. It is Makruh-e-Tehrimi to perform Salah with folded sleeves, cuffs or skirt." Special attention is needed on this issue for the people of India and Pakistan who wear Shalwar and Kurta. If pulled or folded one must repeat the Salah.
  • It is Makruh to perform Salah with a bare head because of laziness or without realizing the importance of performing Salah with a covered head. For, not to cover one's head means to disobey the Qur’anic ayah: "Take your ornamented clothes and cover yourself for Salah!"
  • It is Sunnah to wrap turban around the head whether in white or black colour as Rasulullah Salallahu Alaihi Wasallam used these colour or any other colour will suffice.
  • Allama Ibne Abidin Shami Rehmatullahi Ta'ala Alaih said. : "Direction towards Qibla is Fardh for prayer i.e. the prayer must be performed in the direction of Ka'ba. Salah is performed for Allah the Most High Only. Sajdah is done for Allah Ta'ala only, but not for the Ka'ba. One who makes Sajdah for the Ka'ba becomes a disbeliever."

Means last sitting in the last rakah, it is Fardh to sit as long as it takes to recite the Athiyyat, "Atthayyato Lillahe Wassalawato Wat Tayyebato Assalamu Alaika Ayyohan Nabiyo Wa Rehmatullahe Wa Barakatoh Assalamu Alaina Wa Ala Ibadillahis Sualaiheen Ashadu An La ilaah illal Laho Wa Ashadu Anna Mohammadan Abdohoo Wa Rasooloohoo" When sitting, men place their left foot flat on the ground with it toes pointing towards the right and rest on this foot. The right foot should be upright, with the toes touching the grounds, bent and pointing towards the Qibla.

NOTE 1: Women sit by Tawarruk. In other words they sit with their buttocks on the ground. Their thighs should be close to each other. Their feet should jut out from the right.

NOTE 2: When you reach at ‘Ashadu An La’ raise your index finger of your right hand upward facing about 45 degrees by closing the fist, and drop it back and spread the hand to its original position at ‘illal Laho’.

To signify the completion of prayer by word or action. It means to finish and complete the prayer by saying or doing something. Salah is completed by saying, "Assalamo Alaikum Wa Rehmatullah" First by moving the head towards right shoulder and then towards the left.

  • It is Mustahab (recommended) for the Imam to turn right or left or towards the Jama'at.
  • It is stated in a Hadith, 'If a person says, "Astaghfirullah Al'azim-il-llazi La ilaha illa Huw-al-hayy-ul-qayyuma Wa Atubu ilayh", after every prayer, all his sins will be forgiven.
  • The Imam and the followers raise their hands as high as their chest and pray (make Du’a) for themselves and for all Muslims. Ahadith declares, 'Prayers (Du'a) sent after the five daily Fardh will be accepted', Tirmidhi. It should be kept in mind that the prayers (Du'a) must be done with a vigilant heart and humbleness before the Lord your God. Fingers are turned towards the Qibla. Arms are not opened apart in the right-left direction. They are close each other, forward.
  • While making the Du’a, it is Mustahab to send Salawaat upon Rasulullah (salallahu alaihi wasallam) in the beginning and at the end of the prayer.
  • After making your Prayers (Du’a), it is Sunnah to rub the hands gently on the face.
  • When beginning to pray Salah, a woman raises both hands up to the level of her shoulders. While standing she puts her right hand on the left hand. However, she does not grasp her left wrist the fingers of her right hand. She puts her hands on her breast. While making rukuh, her hands are placed on the knees, but do not grasp them. She keeps her fingers close together. She does not keep her legs straight, nor does she level her back. While making Sajdah, she lowers herself, bringing her arms to her side while she keeps her abdomen placed over her thighs. She sits on the buttocks, her legs inclined towards right.
  • A woman cannot be Imam for men. If they follow a man as an Imam, they should be in last line of the Jama'at.
  • While performing Salah in Jama'at, if a woman stands besides or in front of a man, the man Salah will be Fasid (nullified).

A Hadith Shareef, quoted in the book 'Qurratul'uyun,' declares, "If a person does not perform Salah though through negligence, Allah ta'ala will give him fifteen kinds of punishments. Six of them will come in this world, three will come at the time of death, three will come in the grave, and three will come when rising from the grave. The six plagues in the world are:
  • Person who does not perform Salah will not have Barakah {blessings} in his life.
  • He will not have the beauty, the likeness to those who are loved by Allah ta'ala.
  • He will not be given reward for any good he does.
  • His supplications (Du’as) will not be accepted.
  • No one will like him.
  • Blessings that (other) Muslims invoked on him will do him no good.
Kinds of torment he will suffer when dying are:
  • He will expire in an abhorrent, unsightly, repugnant manner.
  • He will die hungry.
  • Much water as he may have, he will die with painful thirst.
Kind of torment he will suffer in the grave are:
  • The grave will squeeze him. His bone will intertwine.
  • His grave will be filled with fire, which will scorch him day and night.
  • Allah ta'ala will send him a huge snake to his grave. It is not like terrestrial serpents. It will sting him at every prayer time each day. It will never leave him alone any moment.
Kinds of torment he will suffer after rising are:
  • Angels of torment that will drag him to hell will never leave him alone.
  • Allah ta'ala will meet him with wrath.
  • His accounts will be settled in a very vehement manner, and he will be flung into hell. (May Allah save us) On the other hand, we see that one who performs Salah five times a day his sins are forgiven. As it is stated in the Hadith, Rasulullah (salallahu alaihi wasallam) asked to his (salallahu alaihi wasallam) companions: "If there were a river in front of one's house and if he washed himself in this river five times every day, would there be any dirt left on him?" We (Jabir bin Abdullah and other Sahaba present there) said, "No, O Rasulallah." Allah's most beloved Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) said, "Likewise minor sins of those who perform the five daily prayers are forgiven." Ibn Jawzi (may Allah be pleased with him) wrote in his Tafsir Elmugni: Abu Bakr Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) said that, "When the time of a daily prayer of Salah comes, angels say, 'O the sons of Adam, stand up! Extinguish the fire prepared to burn human beings by performing Salah.

  • Contributed by: Maulana Babar Rehmani, Adapted and Corrected by M.A. Rizvi for MSL
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